Tidsskrift: Climate, vol. 10, 27, 2022
Human adaptation to climate change is the outcome of long-term decisions continuously made and revised by local communities. Adaptation choices can be represented by economic investment models in which the often large upfront cost of adaptation is offset by the future benefits of avoiding losses due to future natural hazards. In this context, we investigate the role that expectations of future natural hazards have on adaptation in the Colorado River basin of the USA. We apply an innovative approach that quantifies the impacts of changes in concurrent climate extremes, with a focus on flooding events. By including the expectation of future natural hazards in adaptation models, we examine how public policies can focus on this component to support local community adaptation efforts. Findings indicate that considering the concurrent distribution of several variables makes quantification and prediction of extremes easier, more realistic, and consequently improves our capability to model human systems adaptation. Hazard expectation is a leading force in adaptation. Even without assuming increases in exposure, the Colorado River basin is expected to face harsh increases in damage from flooding events unless local communities are able to incorporate climate change and expected increases in extremes in their adaptation planning and decision making.